Kedwell on fire as Grays excite
Danny Kedwell led the onslaught as Grays blitzed Kidderminster to notch an impressive first win of the season.
Kedwell, Blues' high-profile summer recruit from Welling United, bagged a first-half hat-trick to kick-start his Blues career.
Strike partner Ben Watson also registered on the scoresheet during a whirlwind first half that left last season's FA Trophy finalists well and truly shell-shocked.
Iyseden Christie converted a penalty to give Harriers brief hope after the re-start but sub Aaron O'Connor rounded off a victory that will make the rest of the Blue Square Conference sit up and take note.
Not since the glory days of Grays' first season in the Conference has the team shown so much attacking verve.
Kedwell will take most of the plaudits with his hat-trick but Kidderminster were undone by the combined prowess of the Blues attack.
James Lawson and Dennis Oli, both making their first starts of the season, impressed on the flanks and Watson - though being withdrawn with a bruised foot after 30 minutes - also showed enough to suggest that he, like Kedwell, can make the step up to Conference football.
"I thought we were excellent from start to finish," said boss Justin Edinburgh. "From the goalkeeper right through to the subs that came on everyone contributed.
"We have an excellent squad this year, everyone wants to play and show what they can do.
"We have got a lot of new players and we are still bedding in as a team but this shows we are beginning to find our form."
But Edinburgh did find time to reserve special praise for Kedwell, a man whose signature he has been chasing ever since he took up the managerial reins.
He said: "I think today you have seen why we chased him for so long. I took him off early against Woking in midweek and we have a bit of a dispute. But I knew he would respond like that."
Grays set a high tempo from the first whistle, pressuring Harriers high up the field and using wide men Oli and Lawson to good effect.
Oli and Watson - who should have scored when one-on-one with Scott Bevan - both went close in the opening exchanges so it was no surprise when Kedwell broke the deadlock.
Lawson prodded the ball through to the burly striker who escaped the Kidderminster back line and bore down on Bevan.
His first effort was well blocked by the Kiddy stopper but the ball rebounded back off Kedwell and trickled over the line.
The visitors nearly equalised when Michael Blackwood ran 70 yards and unleashed a fierce shot from the edge of the box that Ross Flitney spilled but gathered at the second attempt.
Blues doubled their advantage in controversial fashion five minutes later when referee Amy Rayner adjudged John Munday to have pushed Watson in the box as he looked to nod home Kedwell's header across goal.
It looked a soft award but, no matter, Kedwell stepped up to convert the penalty at the second attempt, after Grays were pulled up for encroachment first time round.
Munday nearly made amends in the 23rd minute when he headed Jonny Harkness's corner against the bar in a rare Kidderminster chance.
A minute later they were three behind: Ernie Cooksey swung a dangerous ball to the back post where Lawson headed down for Kedwell who saw his shot blocked by Michael Crighton.
But the ball fell fortuitously for Watson who swiveled and fired into the bottom corner.
Watson's luck ended there as he was injured in slotting his goal and replaced by O'Connor soon after.
Former Grays man Justin Richards came close to reducing the arrears shortly when he burst through to collect a long ball forward but, with Flitney swift off his line, he could only lob wide.
Kedwell completed his hat-trick, six minutes before the break when he stepped across the challenge of Munday on the edge of the box and unleashed a crisp drive into the bottom corner.
Kiddy boss Mark Yates sent his men out early for the re-start and his players reacted positively, pulling a goal back within four minutes.
A long throw into the box by sub Jeff Kenna was handled by Karl Murray and another half-time replacement, Iyseden Christie smashed the penalty home.
The hosts recovered from the early set-back well and went on to boss the second half.
Mark Marshall had, by this time, come on for Oli and it is a compliment to the diminutive winger to say Oli's loss was not greatly felt.
It was Marshall himself who nearly added a fifth when he flashed a volley inches past the far post after good play from Lawson on the other wing.
Marshall then turned provider, first crossing for Kedwell, whose shot was blocked at point-blank range by Bevan, and then, in identical circumstances, for O'Connor who went one better and found the back of the net.
O'Connor, Marshall and Lawson all had chances to add to the score but Edinburgh was content enough with five.
"Kidderminster are a good side," he said. "A lot of people, me included, have tipped them to be up there at the end of the season so this was a good result.
"We have an abundance of attacking players at this club now and we are beginning to see that."
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report